Labor Relations Role-Play:

Collective Bargaining at Central Division


Lawrence Susskind, Charles Hecksher, and Elaine Landry

Two-team, multi-issue collective bargaining contract negotiation between three union representatives and three management representatives for a telephone company; includes an internal team meeting before external negotiations


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.


The union and management bargaining teams for American Phone Company are preparing for upcoming negotiations. The last round of negotiations in 1986 was disastrous; there was a strike and relationships were damaged. The leadership on both sides would like things to go better this time around and has said that they want to work toward a more cooperative relationship. Trust between the two groups has eroded over the years, however, any attempts to employ a mutual gains approach here is not necessarily met with enthusiasm by their constituencies. The negotiations revolve around three issues likely to be on the table in 1989: wages, employment security and medical benefits.



Individuals should be given at least 30 minutes to read general and confidential material. Internal group negotiations and preparations should take 60-90 minutes. External negotiations between management and the union can take 60-90 minutes.



  • There are often legitimate differences within bargaining teams. These internal conflicts ought to be worked out before serious bargaining begins as unresolved internal conflict can create problems when it comes time to ratify carefully crafted draft agreements. This exercise creates the opportunity for participants to practice techniques and strategies of managing internal team conflict.
  • In most collective bargaining situations, each side begins by staking out its position. Both usually do this before they even hear what the concerns are of the other side. This often leads to the process of trading concessions which results in minimally acceptable outcomes. To achieve maximum joint gains it is necessary to focus instead on listening to the interests of the other side before staking out opening positions. The best techniques for probing interests can be studied.
  • Using statements developed during the session on probing interests, the best ways of inventing options for mutual gain and the power of creative options can be explored.
  • The significance of relationships can be studied in the context of negotiation strategies. The impact of existing and future relationships on implementation can be explored.
  • Issues of representation can be examined, since each of the players represents a group or institutional constituency. Each representative has a mandate which aids or constrains his or her ability to negotiate.
  • This game allows the players to explore the influence of threats and promises on the behavior of other parties.
  • The game raises questions of relationship, precedent and reputation. All sides have important long-term interests.



For all parties:

  • General Information
  • Inventing Options for Mutual Gain — Instructions


For Union Members (L. Rigley, A. Jones, and M. Bemis):

  • Union Fact Sheet


For Management Members (K. Lewis, R. Gentry, and J. Evans):

  • Management Fact Sheet


Confidential Instructions for Internal Team Negotiations:

  • Union Representatives
  • M. Bemis, President of the Local
  • A. Jones, Staff Member of the International Union
  • L. Rigley, Regional Representative of the International Union


Management Representatives:

  • J. Evans, Manager of Large Business Services
  • R. Gentry, Head of the Benefits Department
  • K. Lewis, Division Manager of Labor Relations


Confidential Instructions for Identifying Interests:

Union Representatives:

  • M. Bemis, President of the Local
  • A. Jones, Staff Member of the International Union
  • L. Rigley, Regional Representative of the International Union


Management Representatives:

  • J. Evans, Manager of Large Business Services
  • R. Gentry, Head of the Benefits Department
  • K. Lewis, Division Manager of Labor Relations


Teacher's Package:

  • All of the above


Agenda control; Caucusing; Competition v. Cooperation; Consensus building; Interest, dovetailing; Issue control; Joint gains; Options, generating; Packaging; Recurring negotiations

Collective Bargaining at Central Division Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 2
Teams involved: No
Agent present: Non-lawyer
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: No
Non-English version available: Spanish